Triggers That Cause Relapse – Part 3

Hello everyone and thank you for joining me again to discuss triggers that cause relapse.

Today we are wrapping up the “people, places & things” triggers in our recovery process, rather it is drugs, alcohol or any other addiction.

Unlike the “people” that trigger us or the “places” that may also trigger us, the “things” are a bit more complex & more abundantly present with us.

The “things” can be so subtle, that we are unable to identify each & every one of them in time.

Don’t misunderstand me, recovery is a lifetime process and requires continuous work.

We literally only do have “today” because tomorrow…well you just never know what’s in store.

The Threefold Dilemma

Whether you are a spouse, brother, sister, parent, another family member or loved one or you just happen to be the one in the addiction, trying to recover, somewhere along the line you are going to be exposed to the infamous recovery phrase: “we are powerless over people, places and things”.

These three aspects of powerlessness are what we have been discussing and they each play their own significant role.

But the “things” can be a bit more baffling than the “people” that we know and the “places” in which we are familiar with.

Nevertheless, people, places and things are all major players on our road to recovery and each of these, of what I call, the ‘threefold dilemma’ must be addressed in order for successful recovery to take place.

If they are not, the foundation of abstinence will have no chance of overcoming the demise of the addiction.

Addressing the people, places and things is crucial for successful recovery.

Once again, it’s not too difficult to identify the people in your life.

You have people that are positive influences, and you have people, or acquaintances, that are not.

It’s not hard to identify who’s who.

People that we surrounded ourselves with during our addiction was a choice, it wasn’t a mystery.

Particular places may have been a bit more challenging separating from, depending on the individual’s situation.

But the things, which involves many different things, like characteristics and weaknesses…. well, let’s just say the “things” can really surface and sucker punch you when you least expect it.

You see they are all triggers and all three are connected to our drug use in some way, shape or form.

All of us are going to be in one of two places, and we can’t be in two places at one time.

We will either choose to be in our addiction…or we will choose to be in our recovery…one or the other.

The “things” are connected to our drug use, and they will still be connected to our recovery.

With that said, our triggers are what causes us to remain powerless, even over our own decisions.

The triggers are connected to the addiction and the recovery.

What It Looks Like

Knowing this we know we must perceive how our triggers affected us in addiction to be able to recognize in recovery.

So, let’s take a look at what some “things” may look like

What Do “Things” Look Like?

The “things” come in many shapes and sizes. They are also the things we overlook or don’t even realize are triggers to begin with.

Below we see some patterns that may trigger a response or impulsive action like:

  • certain holidays
  • going to a party
  • an anniversary of something
  • a certain food that we eat or ate
  • sex that we had with different individuals (or even a partner in our addiction)
  • getting paid on Friday

That’s just to name a few. We also have different emotions or feelings, such as being:

  • stressed out
  • excited or overwhelmed with happiness
  • bored and looking to get into something
  • sad and on the pity pot
  • feeling loneliness
  • full of anger or upset

And one that we don’t even realize is a “thing” is withdrawal.

While most of the others mentioned above are examples of psychological triggers, the withdrawal can not only be a psychological trigger but more so, in many cases, physiological trigger.

So, you see, it can be a little more daunting understanding ALL the elements of how “things” come into play.

Before & After Cravings Is An Ongoing Thing

Having cravings during active addiction just simply go with the turf that you are playing on.

But what about when you have been sober for 6-months and out of the blue…. you get a craving? What now?

This by far has to be the most challenging aspect for anyone in recovery.

Because even though you are out of that particular valley for a season, be it 3-6-9 months…. coming out of those woods, for good, is a whole different story altogether.

Cravings can be a thing that we overcome eventually with time, or it could be something that we may never get rid of.

It will depend on the daily maintenance we put forth.

Whatever the case may be, you have to decide what “powerless over people, places and things” means to you and your recovery.

Either you will harness the power that is in you to combat the triggers that will always be around you or you will relinquish your power (by choice) and once again become powerless over you.

You have to know that you are powerless over people, places and things… knowing that and respecting that will allow you to exert your power where it is needed….and that power is needed in controlling you….one day at a time!

The Takeaway – Powerless Over Everything But You

Listen, I knew when I was 6-months clean, years ago, that I had no business going back to the club where I use to party-where it started out with a drink and before the night was over, I had done an eight ball of cocaine.

I also knew that after 1-year clean from heroin, that I had no business driving back into the neighborhood where I copped, sold & got high.

Especially since I no longer lived there.

But I would lie to myself and say to myself, “I’m just going to let everyone see how good I’m looking & doing now since I got out of the pen”.

Less than 24-hours after being clean for 1-year, I made an insane decision while I was sober….and I was on my way back to prison…just that quick.

I was powerless over people, places and things.

People didn’t change, nor could I make them…

Places like the club & the neighborhood certainly haven’t changed…. nor could I make them…

Many things that triggered responses I did not respect…so they took my power.

Since I didn’t realize then that I was powerless over everything but me, I eventually succumbed to the disease of addiction.

And I did this insane dance over and over and over again.

Once I realized, “Hey man, the only way that you can take YOUR OWN power back is to realize that you are powerless over everything else but YOU!

I made that decision with the support of good people around now on June 27, 2008….

….and I’m still powerless over people, places & things!

Conclusion – The 24/7 Reality Check

In concluding, I would like to emphasis one thing.

“If don’t nothing change, then don’t nothing change!”

You may or may not have heard this before.

But it is the simple truth in its simplicity.

We have to constantly be aware of who we want to be today, opposed to who we were yesterday, last month or even last year.

Because today is a new day and every day moving forward requires a ‘reality check’ to keep us in check.

Once we realize that we can’t change the world and that ‘the change has to start with me’ then we begin to shed the things that never served us.

Then, and only then, can we start working on the better version of ourselves that was there all along.

We then begin to embrace the power within ourselves and how to govern that and we accept what we are powerless over…

…which is EVERYTHING but ourselves!

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2 thoughts on “Triggers That Cause Relapse – Part 3

  • March 8, 2023 at 6:49 PM

    The mistake a lot of us make is that we expect recovery to happen overnight. We forget the influence of people and things. I like it when you emphasized recovery being a lifetime and continuous process. It will help you overcome the influence and power of people and things. I am helping a friend with his recovery, and I will not give up on him.

    • March 8, 2023 at 7:44 PM

      Appreciate the feedback my brother. Yes, recovery is a lifetime process…we just simply never arrive at a specific destination…it’s a life journey once you have been affected and a slip can come at any time if you are not on your “P”‘s & “Q”‘s. You continue to advocate for your friend…we have to separate the person from the disease, loving the person & despising the disease that has taken over. Thanks again my friend for your input.


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